Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Orphanmaster: A Novel of Early Manhattan by Jean Zimmerman



A love story wrapped around a murder mystery, set in seventeenth-century Manhattan.

In 1663 in the hardscrabble colony of New Amsterdam — today’s lower Manhattan — orphan children are going missing and residents suspect a serial killer. The list of possible culprits is long and strange. Among those looking into the mystery are a shrewd young Dutch woman, Blandine van Couvering, and a dashing Englishman, Edward Drummond, whose new found romance is threatened by horrible accusations.

In this spellbinding work of historical fiction, Jean Zimmerman relates the harsh realities of life in early Manhattan, re-creating the sights, smells, and textures of the rough settlement surrounded by wilderness and subject to political turmoil. Compulsively readable and filled with New York history, The Orphanmaster will delight fans of Caleb Carr, Hilary Mantel, and Geraldine Brooks. 


In the year 1663, on what is known today as Manhattan, someone is abducting and killing orphans. Blandine is a young orphan woman who has worked hard to carve out a living for herself as a trader. Richard Drummond, an English cavalier meets and becomes intrigued with Blandine. Together, they set out to solve the murder mystery.

The Orphanmaster is a fascinating novel about the Dutch colony in early America. Well researched, the author has truly captured the essence of the times with all its hardships, morals, and daily living. I thoroughly enjoyed the heroine who is strong and stalwart and definitely independent. The giant man who befriends her and follows her around to protect her, was also a fine touch. And of course, I thoroughly enjoyed the hero, Richard Drummond. Although the novel moves slowly at times, and the novel could have had a few more scenes edited, the mystery about the sadistic killer kept me reading on to the end. A very good story that definitely sweeps readers back into 17th century America.

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